Local Leaders Gather For Summit

Local leaders from government, schools and private sector came together to discuss ways to cooperate in Hernandez June 14. Seen here, State Representative Debbir Rodella talks with the group.Valley Daily Post photo


Local Leaders Gather For Summit

Staff Report

Local leadership of city, county, state, schools, and non-profits came together Thursday, June 14 for the Third Annual Regional Leadership Summit, jointly sponsored by Northern New Mexico College and Rio Arriba County. Over fifty local leaders and community members gathered at the Hernandez Community Center, where they heard updates on projects affecting the region, discussed joint efforts and discussed future goals and opportunities that the regional partners can work on together.

The summit is intended to bring regional governments and institutions together to jointly work on five pillars or primary goals. These pillars include:

  • Workforce development
  • Leveraging strategic partnerships
  • Education,
  • Community health, economic development, developing opportunities for youth in the Valley
  • Cultivating a positive image in the region

Terry Mulert, Executive Director of the Northern New Mexico College Foundation welcomes summit participants, Valley Daily Post photo

Roger Gonzales with Siete del Norte spoke about the joint project with the City of Espanola and Rio Arriba County to create a regional agriculture hub at the site of the old Ford dealership. Gonzales informed attendees that after multiple delays the project is now nearing the phase where a contractor will be selected and we can expect construction to begin in earnest sometime this fall.

An artist’s rendering of what the proposed site will look like once completed. Courtesy image

State Representative Debbie Rodella and Senator Richard Martinez also attended and talked about opportunities where the state and local groups can collaborate on projects, such as the Agriculture Hub which is partially funded by capital outlay appropriation secured by Rodella, Martinez and other local legislators. 

A special presentation was given by Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan who briefed attendees on LANL’s short and medium term challenges and opportunities. McMillan focused much of his presentation on the projected job openings that will be available to Rio Arriba residents over the next few years.

LANL Director Charlie McMillan, speaking here, brought his leadership team to the summit, where he stressed the importance of the partnership between the lab and communities in the region. Valley Daily Post photo

 Participants also participated in small group breakout sessions where they gathered to discuss specific challenges and brainstorm possible responses. The summit concluded with those present planning for ways to continue working towards regional collaboration in a number of areas.

See below for more images from the summit.


Audience members participated during the breakout session, adding their thoughts to the discussion of regional challenges and opportunities. Valley Daily Post photo

Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero speaks. Valley Daily Post photo

County Commissioner Alex Naranjo and Espanola Schools Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez talk during a break. Valley Daily Post photo

NNMC President Richard Bailey gives an update of activity at the college. Valley Daily Post photo